Fat is back. The Ketogenic Diet, has made it possible for this most feared macronutrient, to sneak back on to our plates. It has a wide following amongst waistline watchers for its power to make one lose ridiculous amounts of weight quickly to even reversing type two-diabetes. This new eating style has earned the spotlight in recent times for many Hollywood A-listers, like Gwyneth Paltrow, Hale Berry claim to be ardent followers of this diet regimen. So what’s the rave all about?
What is a ketogenic diet?
It is a century old diet, which began as a non-pharmacological treatment for epilepsy in children.It is essentially a very high fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan. More specifically, 80% of the diet is comprised of fat, 15% is protein, and a mere 5% of calories come from carbohydrates. It consists of mainly fat from meat, poultry, fish and shell fish, whole eggs, most type of cheese, moderate amounts of nuts, any oils, butter, cream and mayonnaise. To keep carbohydrate intake low, vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and celery are the only source allowed.
How does it work?
It primarily works by depriving the body of its primary fuel source – carbohydrates, and redirecting the body to use its fat reserves for energy with a process called ketosis. Putting the body in a state of ketosis has shown to decrease hunger and satisfy appetite longer than anything fat –free ever could.
How will I feel?
You might experience something called the -keto flu. It is a cluster of symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, nausea, irritability, often caused by dehydration and loss of electrolytes. It is a withdrawal symptom, same as the one experienced when one stops smoking or drinking alcohol. It is because the body switches from burning glucose to burning fat. It usually lasts for 2-3 days.
How do I know if I have achieved ketosis?
You have to look out for 3 things to happen to achieve ketosis. The first telltale sign would be a fruity or sweet breath; it can also smell like nail polish. This would mean your body has started producing ketones such as acetone, which can be smelt in your breath. You may also find it difficult to move your bowels. Yes, it means constipation. Reduced hunger also indicates ketosis, because this metabolic process has an effect on your appetite hormones, which gives you early satiety and decrease hunger. It normally takes 3-4 days to achieve a state of ketosis. It is the adaptation period because the body has to eliminate the carbohydrate reservoir stored in the muscles, before using fat as a fuel source.
In the short term, it may aid in quick weight loss. Although results may vary but in an effective scenario, one can expect to lose an average of 5 kilos in a month. Followers of this diet are reported to feel less hungry. They feel satiated even with less food. Some proponents of this diet even suggest that it is highly effective for diabetics because it can cause weight loss as well as lower blood glucose, both essential for diabetic control. Some studies have also found evidence of improved heart health due to its effect on reducing high blood pressure and triglyceride levels and also increasing the good cholesterol HDL.
Firstly, it is a difficult diet to follow because people find it very arduous to eat large amounts of fat and even more, restricting their carbohydrate intake. Some cannot tolerate the symptoms of keto flu and give up. Non-Compliance is a major issue. It can cause constipation, dehydration and kidney stones and may also weaken your bones. Severe restriction of carbohydrates can also cause nutritional deficiencies. Long -term adherence to this high fat, low-carb diet can be detrimental to heart health and emotional well being.
If you are convinced that this diet will be great for you, it has to be done under medical supervision, due to the extreme nature of this diet. Vitamin and mineral supplementation is often necessary. You must consume adequate amount of proteins to achieve fat loss .It is extremely important that you stay hydrated.
If done under medical supervision, weighing the benefits and risks, the ketogenic diet can be an effective weight loss tool for a short term. It can be used to give a jump-start to your weight loss goal.
The bonus – a concoction of healthy fats in your diet can protect your brain, lower risk of heart disease, increase good cholesterol and keep you full and happy all day long and is great for your skin too.
So while on this diet, include healthy fats such as:
- Full fat dairy
- Egg yolk
- Flax n chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Cocoa butter
- Fatty Fishes such as Salmon, tuna,tilapia, pomfret, hilsa.
–Written by Nutritionist Hena Nafis